WORCESTER could be asked to find homes for 66 asylum seekers by the end of 2023 as the Government bids to end its dependence on local hotels.
Some 20 homes – likely to be houses of multiple occupancy – would need to be made available under the proposals to be considered by the City Council’s communities committee tonight (Wednesday).
But the plan has already attracted condemnation from Coun Alan Amos who claimed the plans would reduce the supply of housing for local people and ‘force up rents at a time of a cost-of-living crisis’.
The Fownes Hotel has been used since August to house asylum seekers awaiting an outcome of whether they will be allowed to remain in the UK. According to a council report there are 115 people staying in the hotel.
However the Government now wishes to ‘reduce and eliminate’ the use of such venues and has contracted Serco to deliver a scheme for people wishing to come to the UK.
As a result, the city is being asked to allocate homes from the stock of 8,700 privately-owned properties. Once identified, Serco will then engage with the landlords involved.
Serco would pay the cost of housing and supporting the asylum seekers as part of the contract and the government said it would pay £3,500 per bed.
“Although the impact of 20 to 30 properties being procured out of a total private rented stock of several thousand (8,700) is likely to be minimal, the proposal nevertheless will restrict these properties being available for other people in need of accommodation,” the report said.
“It is also possible the consequential impact on supply could create further inflation in rents at a time when the cost of living is causing people to struggle.”
Coun Amos, a prominent critic of the scheme said: “As I predicted when we discovered the Fownes Hotel was to be taken over by 124 immigrants, hundreds more are now on their way with the first tranche coming soon.”
The Bedwardine councillor claimed more than 3,000 people were on Worcester’s own housing waiting list and said it was ‘sickening’ that priority was given to what he referred to as ‘illegal immigrants’.
“If there is money for illegal immigrants, then it should be spent on reducing our own housing and health waiting lists first,” he said.
“It is extraordinary this whole scheme is recommended for approval even though the report admits it hasn’t got a clue about how much it is all going to cost Worcester taxpayers, either now or in the long-term.”